Moscow’s city government is asking residents to pick a name, which glorifies its war in Ukraine, for a square located outside the US embassy. Officials in Russia’s capital city have asked residents to vote on a list of three names for the currently untitled square.
According to Newsweek, the naming of the square which shares a block with the US embassy is a thinly veiled affront to Washington and a further sign of deteriorating relations between the two nations over the ongoing war in Ukraine.
The list of names submitted by Moscow’s city government for the square reportedly includes, “Defenders of Donbas Square,” “Donetsk People’s Republic Square” and “Hero of Russia Vladimir Artyomovich Zhoga Square”. Notably, the names refer to Donbas, a region in eastern Ukraine where Russia-backed separatists are fighting Ukrainian forces.
As per Moscow Times, residents have been asked to vote digitally via Moscow City Hall’s Active Citizen website. “The Moscow city administration has received numerous requests from citizens with different names [for the square], so we decided to put the issue to a city-wide vote,” the site read, adding, “As a result [of the vote], the city map will be immortalized in memory of the defenders of Donbas from neo-Nazis,” – a reference to Russian President Vladimir Putin’s claims that the Kremlin’s invasion of Ukraine would “denazify” the country.
Further, the platform had registered at least 25,000 votes at the time of writing but did not indicate when voting would close.
Earlier in May, Moscow City Council had petitioned to name the small piece of land “Defenders of Donbas Square” and use it as the US Embassy’s address. In response, the US Embassy in Moscow said that it was “surprised but not offended” by the proposal and offered its own interpretation of the suggested name. Taking to Telegram, it said that the name suggested by Russia is “presumed to be in honour of Ukrainian soldiers bravely defending their homeland from Kremlin aggression”.
In 2018, the US had also taken a similar swipe at Russia by voting to rename a square in front of the Russian embassy in the US capital in honour of slain Kremlin opposition politician Boris Nemstov, Newsweek reported.